By Dewayne Ector’s own admission, explaining his job is “difficult and boring.” He isn’t wrong — not on the first point, anyway. As Songtrust’s global head of society relations, a newly created position, Ector has one of the least glamorous but most crucial roles in the music industry. Since March, he has managed the Downtown-owned digital rights company’s relationships with over 40 collection societies around the world on behalf of its more than 200,000 songwriters and 26,000 publishers. His focus: getting creators paid for every use of their work, no matter how small or obscure. “It’s data and trying to get money out of people and having conversations that no one really wants to have,” he explains. “I get some travel. Other than that I’m in meeting rooms, sometimes without windows. But I believe in what I do.”
London-based Ector, 40, has extensive experience in the royalty-collection realm. He joined Songtrust after nearly four years at Kobalt’s AMRA Music running the global digital-music collection society’s international operations, with eight years at PRS for Music before that — during which time he also earned a law degree from Birkbeck, University of London. Ector’s move to Songtrust was inspired, in part, by his desire to support independent artists like those he grew up with in Trinidad and Tobago. (His father, Eman Ector, was the bandleader for local group Massive Chandelier and an arranger-producer.) Now he’s on the other side of the negotiating table, “flying around the world and shaking down societies for money,” he says. “But I do it in a nice way.” Despite his demanding schedule, Ector insists he doesn’t “really like to work hard at all. I prefer to work smart and make the best of every opportunity.” Here, his musts for getting it all done.
Think Globally: Representing over 1.5 million copyrights for creators from 64 countries, Songtrust is a direct witness to how the internet has democratized and hugely expanded the songwriting world. That volume and diversity of clients engenders a number of challenges for Ector, ranging from navigating royalty collections for intercontinental collaborations to understanding local laws — for example, he says, “in the Philippines, you can’t just go and join the [collections] society or do direct licensing into the territory.”
Foster Communication: Sharing information with partner collection societies (and vice versa) is key to Ector’s job. While he and his team regularly try to collect more data from those societies — which in turn helps educate Songtrust’s writers and publishers — they also help them maximize revenue, automate processes and grow memberships. “There’s a lot of income tracking, so looking at data is a big part of my job,” he says. “Understanding what societies are sending back to us, making sure it looks right: Are we getting enough money for both our biggest hit songs and smaller ones?”
Always Be Closing: At PRS, Ector had to convince businesses why they should license music from the collection society (which sells licenses but does not enforce their use), so he had to develop effective sales techniques. Now he uses those skills with other societies around the globe: “If you’re going into people’s worlds and telling them that they need to prioritize you and what you want to do, you’re going to have to sell them on it.”
Become a People Person: Ector says relationships are really the core of his job: “That’s where it starts — getting people to listen to what you have to say and take you seriously.” In his first four months at Songtrust, he has traveled to Peru, Spain, France and Portugal, with plans to visit Asia and Australia this fall, all in an effort to sign new deals and build a wider network. “Being able to communicate with many different types of people and not offend them — which I have done on occasion — is very, very important.”